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Welcome to the rather strange space I built for myself! I’m not talking about the house I built, it’s not strange at all and I’ll get to all that in a minute. I mean this surreal moment of my life where strangers across the country (um, world, actually) are reading about my biggest mistakes and fears—even flipping through a photo album of my kids, and planning the best ways to market my real life in print and in film.

I intended to be a fiction writer, not a truth teller. I never imagined anything like this would happen with a book about my real life. Yes, I know I wrote the book, but I only imagined my kids and maybe a few friends would ever flip through it.

So… yikes!

But it’s also incredible to own my history all the way through. I’ll never have to worry again, “But would they really like me if they knew the truth?” Because there it is in black and white with a color photo insert. The good and the bad of me. Take it or leave it.

My story began where I grew up in rural Wisconsin. That’s where I developed a deep love of family stories, climbing trees, and cheese. I also spent a lot of time building things. Back then I was small so I made very small things, like scarves for my stuffed seal and sleeping bags for caterpillars—true story.

After I grew up and had four kids of my own, I should have built big things, but I was in several situations that made me feel smaller than ever, like domestic violence and being stalked by a man with a mental illness, so my goals and my future stayed small too.


Cara BrookinsUntil one day after my kids and I were on our own and I had this great BIG idea. My kids were 17, 15, 11, and 2 and they had been knocked down so many times that they needed something big as badly as I did. (Okay honestly, they just wanted their own rooms.)

Long story short, we needed a house so we built one.

Not just any house. We built a 3500 square foot house with five bedrooms, a three car garage, a huge shop, and a two-story treehouse.

While our toes nearly froze off as we mixed concrete in a wheelbarrow, our back muscles ached from hauling two-by-fours, and we sweated and itched our way through fiberglass insulation—we also rebuilt our broken family.


Cara BrookinsThen we started thinking BIG in every way and I wrote that memoir. The next thing I knew it sold in a big New York publishing auction. Then it became an Indy Next Pick and a Barnes and Noble front of store selection for “What We’re Reading”. Our story landed in magazines and inspired Raise My Roof, a new Macmillan podcast where I interview experts, activists, and celebrities about things they’ve overcome and what they’re building now.

If you’re new to our story, you should pick up a copy of Rise, How a House Built a Family. Already have one? I bet you know someone who could use the motivation if you grab another. (Right here!)

Want to know what my kids are up to? 

There is nothing more powerful than building your future with your own hands.

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Cara Brookins -Rise

It’s time for you to do your something big – and doing something big starts with the right motivation.

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